Ever since becoming a Detroit Lions fan all the way back in 1985, I’ve always been an optimist heading into each and every season. Now, don’t get me wrong, though optimistic, I have also been realistic at the same time. There have been many seasons where my football knowledge told me the Lions roster or coaching staff was not good enough to compete, but I always had HOPE. Hope that the team I have supported for so long would finally break through.
That has been no different this season.
Heading into the 2018 campaign, I had hope that new head coach Matt Patricia would light a fire under the asses of the organization and lead the team to their first playoff victory since the 1991 season. Unfortunately, my brain told me that general manager Bob Quinn had not given Patricia a formidable roster to work with and nine games into the season, the Lions are sitting at 3-6.
If He Only Had a “Football” Brain
Yes, I know that Bob Quinn physically has a brain in his head, we all do, but that does not mean he has the football knowledge needed to successfully build an NFL roster.
This is something Quinn has proven time and time again since he took over as Lions general manager prior to the 2016 season.
Quinn’s first mistake was retaining Jim Caldwell as head coach following a 7-9 2015 season. Sure, the players loved Caldwell but his in-game decision making was awful (at best) and it cost the team on multiple occasions. We will never know if Quinn was given the ultimatum from the Ford family to keep Caldwell around but even if that was the case, Quinn should have never taken the job.
A year later, the Lions got off to a 9-4 start and with the NFC North crown there for the taking, Caldwell was unable to get the job done as the team lost their final three games of the season to finish 9-7. This, of course, meant the Lions would have to play a road playoff game rather than hosting one. As we know, things did not end well as the Lions lost 26-6 to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card round.
But instead of ridding the Lions of a coach who we all knew would NEVER win a Super Bowl in Detroit, Quinn brought him back for the 2017 season. After posting another 9-7 record, Quinn FINALLY decided to fire Caldwell, but not until multiple seasons were wasted.
Now, Quinn has brought in his buddy from New England, Matt Patricia. I will not lie, I lobbied for the team to hire Patricia for about three years so I was thrilled when the decision was announced. That being said, though it is still early, Patricia looks like a deer in headlights and in over his head. (More on this later)
When it comes to drafting, Quinn has been a mixed bag but he has made some glaring mistakes. The one pick that really stands out came in 2017 when he decided to draft cornerback Teez Tabor out of Florida. Anyone who had watched Tabor play or looked at his measurables was pretty confident he could not be a solid NFL player. But Quinn thought he could be so he drafted him. That being said, Tabor was not the only swing and miss for Quinn as two of his three first-round picks as Lions GM (Taylor Decker and Jarrad Davis) are far from what he hoped they would be by this point.
As far as free agency goes, Quinn has not been much better. Heading into the 2018 offseason, there was no question about it that the Lions would need major help on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, Quinn did very little to address the defense (especially the defensive line), and the team is paying for it. When it comes to making a big splash, like with T.J. Lang or Marvin Jones, he has done ok, but when it comes to finding diamonds in the rough, Quinn has failed time and time again.
The one area Quinn seems to have a clue about it trading. Personally, I loved trading a pick for Damon Harrison and was 100% fine with grabbing a third-round pick for Golden Tate, a player who would not be back in 2019 anyways.
Overall, Bob Quinn has been a disaster since taking over as GM of the Detroit Lions, unfortunately, the Ford family is very loyal, which means he may be around for a while.
The King of the Jungle Needs Courage
From 2004-2017, Matt Patricia worked under the great Bill Belichick as an assistant coach/coordinator for the New England Patriots. During that time, Patricia successfully built his coaching resume to the point he became a popular head coaching candidate around the NFL.
Prior to the start of the 2018 season, the Detroit Lions announced they had hired Patricia as their next head coach, essentially making him the “King of the Jungle” in the Motor City.
Unfortunately, Patricia has looked much more like a baby kitten next to a pitbull than he has looked like a Lion walking around like he has no courage to make decisions for himself.
One of the biggest reasons why it was so important to move on from Jim Caldwell was is in-game management (or lack thereof). But through his first nine games, Patricia has managed to make Caldwell look like the brainchild of Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh in comparison as he has consistently failed to make good use of his timeouts.
In addition, Patricia failed in his first attempt to build a coaching staff around him. First, he made the decision to keep Jim Bob Cooter as his offensive coordinator, despite the fact that the Lions offense had been extremely predictable. Though we may never know for sure, the belief is that Patricia kept Cooter because Matthew Stafford wanted that. If that’s true, it is a strike against Patricia. If he truly had courage, he would have demanded Cooter be fired so he could choose his own OC.
Next, he hired his mentor Paul Pasqualoni to serve as defensive coordinator and he has been awful. In fact, the Lions have consistently managed to fall behind in games because the defense has not come out ready. According to DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), the Lions rank No. 30 in the NFL this season and that is unacceptable for a “defensive guru” like Patricia.
Overall, Patricia looks like a deer in headlights both on and off the field. His game management skills are horrendous and he has not shown the ability to gracefully handle the Detroit media. Am I calling for Patricia to be fired right now? Of course not, it is his first year as a head coach and changing the culture of an organization does not happen overnight. That being said, my confidence in him has certainly gone WAY down since he was hired.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
So, what does the future hold for the Detroit Lions?
Well, let me tell you one thing. There is no way in hell that either Quinn or Patricia will be fired anytime soon as they are essentially a 2-for-1 deal.
Personally, I believe Quinn should be fired immediately for what he has managed to do with the Lions roster but we all know how loyal the Ford family is. Heck, just look at how long they kept Matt Millen around, despite him running the organization straight into the ground.
As far as Jim Bob Cooter goes, I really could care less about what Matthew Stafford wants at this point. Cooter should be fired immediately but I don’t think that will happen until after this season is over.
If the Detroit Lions are EVER going to win a Super Bowl, they have some very important decisions to make because what they have going on right now is not working.
That being said, there is always next year! Let’s hope they prove me wrong!
But just make sure to watch out for the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys!